Social inclusion and audience development at the Royal Opera House: a tourist perspective

Guachalla, Adrian (2017) Social inclusion and audience development at the Royal Opera House: a tourist perspective. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 11 (3). pp. 436-449. ISSN 1750-6182

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Purpose: The Royal Opera House, located at the epicentre of Covent Garden, stands as the UK’s leading provider of opera and ballet performances. Having been extensively redeveloped, its front facade is not visible from the area’s central market place and the perceived exclusivity and elitism commonly associated with its art forms also impose a challenge. This study aims to analyse the influence that the Opera House exerts on the tourist’s perception and experience of the world renowned London’s ‘Theatreland’. Design/methodology/approach: 306 semi-structured interviews with domestic, international, first time and repeat tourists were conducted in six different locations throughout the area and inside the flagship building using a convenience sampling approach. These were then analysed with the assistance of qualitative data analysis software (QSR N*Vivo) in two stages leading to an initial set of categorical topics that derived in a number of findings related to the factors that influence the tourist’s perception and experience of place. Findings: The Opera House’s perceived urban concealment proved to have an impact on its influence on Covent Garden’s sense of place. But its social inclusion and audience development initiatives that foster a new generation of opera and ballet theatre-goers emerged as important findings as the House’s open door policy for daytime visitors along with live relays of current opera and ballet productions in other locations spark an interest in experiencing the building from the inside. Research limitations/implications: The paper focuses exclusively on findings related to audience development and social inclusion initiatives currently used at the Royal Opera House and their impact on the tourist's perception and experience of place. However, many other factors influence these processes and scope for further research is highlighted. Practical implications: The Royal Opera House's perceived urban concealment impose a challenge to the task of developing new audiences for its current and future productions. Its Learning and Participation Unit must endeavor to engage younger and international markets by focusing on the quality of the House's performances, its heritage and added facilities of the venue such as exhibitions and shop. Originality/value: This paper addresses the gap in knowledge related to the development of the niche Opera House tourist segment of the cultural tourism market.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Social inclusion, Cultural tourism, Audience development
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2017 13:57
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2018 13:05

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